Wheelchair William’s amazing moment touching torches with Olympic champion
Copp as he played his own historic part in the 2012 Olympic torch relay to London in Salisbury this morning (Thursday).
The wheelchair user student from St John’s School, Marlborough, was there to unite his flame with that of Michael Johnson, one of the great Olympic gold medal runners, after the former world 400 metres record holder had lit up Stonehenge with the flame.
“And it was really amazing,” William told Marlborough News Online. “I never knew I was going to touch flames with such a famous athlete as Michael Johnson until we got down to Salisbury at 5am.
“That’s when I heard and it was a real surprise that our torches would touch and ignite. Then I went go off on a fairly flat bit of road for the next section. So it was quite easy.”
And William was particularly proud to be on the second leg of day 55 of the relay around Britain as Salisbury is the home town of his father, Jon Copp, director of Marlborough College’s celebrated summer school.
Jon and William’s mother Sally were there to see their son in his moment of glory together with some 40 direct relatives, family friends from Australia and school friends of William from St John’s.
“It will be a memory to cherish forever,” said Jon. “And what was amazing too was that William got the biggest cheer from the crowd when he arrived on his wheelchair rather than the arrival of Michael Johnson.”
Sally added: “We were all very proud of William. So were all the members of the family, some of whom had come down specially from the north of England.”
“We were all worried that it might be raining, but the rain held off, there were clear skies and it was a really lovely day to remember.”
William bought his Olympic flame carrier after completing his section of the relay and will be showing it off at school before it goes on display at Marlborough College’s summer school later this month, where there is to be an Olympics section.
And after his sunrise run round Stonehenge with the Olympic torch, Michael Johnson declared: “It was a great experience to carry the torch around the iconic Stonehenge – amazing and unbelievable.”